What if ice that has been frozen for hundreds of thousands of years could be used to predict the future of our climate?
For a better understanding of climate, this project employs ice cores—tubular samples of ice—from Antarctica and Greenland as a tool for plainly observing climate change.
By exploring how tangible objects, such as ice cores, serve to improve our understanding of unobservable concepts such as global warming, these objects not only become tools for scientific research, they become tools of wonder and enlightenment.
Since 1930, scientists have been drilling up ice cores looking for clues about the climate. As new snowfall accumulates every year, pressure caused by the weight of the snow creates layers of ice. Over time, tiny air bubbles form and become trapped within. When the ice cores are removed, the air bubbles within the various layers contain the same composition as when they froze—including greenhouse gasses.
Studying this air, scientists observe the history of climate change from ice ages to interglacial periods as far back as 800,000 years, contemplating not only the climate’s past, but setting out to predict its uncertain future.